Children of a woman who died under suspicious circumstances about 20 years ago sided with their father, who was convicted for subjecting her to cruelty, and sought reduction of his two-year sentence. The three children who have no grievance against their father requested the Court to allow his appeal.

Describing the stand of children as well as the settlement arrived at between convict Mahmood and the parents of the deceased as “mitigating circumstances”, the Delhi High Court has modified the sentence handed down by the Sessions Court to him and his 87-year-old father Sayed Ahmed, taking the period already spent by them in custody as the substantive sentence.

Mahmood’s wife Saira was found seriously injured in her house in Sadar Bazar on August 11, 1994. She was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where her statement was recorded the next day. She subsequently succumbed to her injuries.

The trial of Mahmood and his father resulted in their conviction in 2000 under Sections 498A (husband or his relatives subjecting a woman to cruelty) and 34 (common intention) of Indian Penal Code. They were acquitted of the charge under Section 304B (dowry death) of the Indian Penal Code and the State did not challenge their acquittal for this offence.

The convicts, who filed an appeal in the High Court, settled the dispute with Saira’s parents earlier this year and submitted the compromise deed in Court. The parents also appeared before the Court and informed that the settlement had been arrived at with the appellants with their free consent.

Saira’s daughters — Farahnaaz and Mehjaminaz, brought up by the appellants, appeared before the Court and spoke in favour of the settlement. Their brother, Mehfooz, also said he had no grievance against the appellants.

Justice S. P. Garg noted in his judgment, delivered earlier this week, that Saira’s death was “unfortunate” and that the appellants had suffered agony and the ordeal of trial for about 20 years. They also remained in custody for seven days.

The Judge said the 87-year-old was suffering from various ailments. “The parents of the deceased have also stated that the settlement has been arrived at to maintain harmonious relations.”

Under these circumstances, the High Court said no useful purpose will be served by putting the appellants in jail. The Court maintained that their conviction under Sections 498A and 34 of the IPC and modified the sentence as the period already spent by them in custody.

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